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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

What EU Wants Israelis Not to Know

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

{Originally posted to the the Commentary Magazine website}

In the three days since Israel passed a law mandating new reporting requirements for NGOs that are primarily funded by foreign governments, there’s one question I have yet to hear any of its critics answer. If, as they stridently claim, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with NGOs getting most of their funding from a foreign government, then why would simply being required to state this fact in all their publications exercise a “chilling effect” (the U.S. State Department) or “stigmatize” them (the New Israel Fund) or result in “constraining their activities” (the European Union)?

The obvious answer is that the critics know perfectly well it isn’t alright: An organization that gets most of its funding from a foreign government isn’t a “nongovernmental” organization at all, but an instrument of that government’s foreign policy. In fact, with regard to the EU, that’s explicit in its funding guidelines: For an Israeli organization that conducts activities in the territories to be eligible for EU funding, it must comply with EU foreign policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This, incidentally, also explains why 25 of the 27 organizations affected by the law are left-wing: The far-left is the only part of Israel’s political spectrum that shares Europe’s opinions on the conflict, and hence, that Europe is willing to fund.

Yet if an organization is an instrument of a foreign country’s foreign policy, it’s very hard to argue that it’s an objective “human rights organization,” as the organizations in question bill themselves. Rather, it’s an overtly political organization that seeks to pressure Israel into adopting the foreign government’s preferred policies. And making this known definitely could be “stigmatizing,” in the sense that Israelis might be less willing to trust an organization’s assertions once they realize it has a not-so-hidden policy agenda that could be influencing its reports.

That, however, is precisely why Israelis have a need and a right to know where these organizations’ funding is coming from–especially given this funding’s sheer scale. And it’s also why there’s nothing remotely undemocratic about the law, as explained in depth by legal scholar Eugene Kontorovich here.

Nevertheless, if this is really what the law’s critics fear, then they’re behind the times. In the years since the idea of legislating this law first arose, most of the organizations in question have made themselves so toxic that it’s hard to see how information about their foreign funding could make Israelis view them any more negatively. Thus the more likely impact of publicizing their funding sources won’t be to delegitimize the organizations, but to delegitimize their donors–which is precisely why Europe, which provides most of this funding, is so worried.

Currently, a nontrivial portion of Europe’s influence in Israel comes from the fact that Israelis still admire it and, therefore, want it to like their country, not merely to trade with it. The fact that Europe is Israel’s biggest trading partner obviously also matters greatly, but the emotional angle, which stems mainly from Europe’s role as part of the democratic West, shouldn’t be underrated.

Now consider how that admiration might be affected by the discovery of how much money Europe gives, say, Breaking the Silence. This organization, which compiles “testimony” by Israeli soldiers about alleged abuses, is unpopular in Israel for many reasons–because Israelis don’t think its reports accurately reflect their army’s actions (see here for one egregious example); because its “testimony” is strictly anonymous, making it impossible to investigate its allegations; and because it spends most of its time and effort marketing its reports abroad, convincing many Israelis that it’s more interested in tarnishing Israel’s image than in getting the army to improve its behavior. But last month, two incidents brought its reputation to a new low.

The first was Mahmoud Abbas’ infamous address to the European Parliament, in which he repeated a medieval blood libel by claiming rabbis were ordering their followers to poison Palestinian wells. This accusation originated in a report by a Turkish news agency that cited Breaking the Silence as its source, which sounded highly unlikely. Except then the Israeli website NRG published a video showing one of the organization’s founders claiming that settlers had engineered the evacuation of a Palestinian village by poisoning its well. And a respected left-wing journalist, Ben-Dror Yemini, published a column with further documentation of both the organization’s claim and its falsity. So it turned out BtS actually was spreading a medieval blood libel.

Then, the following week, a group of reservists went public with their experiences of how BtS collects its testimony – which turns out to entail both harassment and deception. After their discharge from the army, the organization called them repeatedly to urge them to talk about their experiences in the 2014 Gaza war; one man said he was called eight or nine times. But when they finally acquiesced, they discovered that the organization had cherry-picked from their accounts to present the army in the worst possible light.

To grasp just how toxic BtS has become, consider the fact that the president of Ben-Gurion University–who has scrupulously defended its right to speak at university seminars–nevertheless overturned a departmental decision to grant it a monetary prize last month. What Professor Rivka Carmi essentially said is that while she will defend its right to speak, she isn’t willing to have her university finance the organization. And when you’ve lost the universities, which are among the most left-wing organizations in Israel, you’ve really lost the whole country.

Originally published in Commentary on July 14, 2016

Evelyn Gordon

The EU and US Cannot Condemn Abbas’ Blood Libel

Friday, June 24th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Elder of Ziyon}

It is 24 hours after Abbas’ blood libel speech at the EU parliament.

It was widely reported – Reuters and the New York Times both featured his lies in their articles. Even Al Arabiya’s coverage noted that there was no evidence for the claim.

Yet the only groups that have condemned it so far are groups that are explicitly Zionist to begin with. (Or they claim to be, in J-Street‘s case, even though that group seems to have ignored Abbas’ many previous statements that are nearly as inflammatory and false.)

The EU parliament gave Abbas a a 30-second standing ovation after the speech. European Parliament President Martin Schulz welcomed him by saying, “Your presence here today, the day after President Rivlin delivered his address, sends a strong signal that the will to achieve a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine is still alive.” But he has been silent since then.

The State Department spokesperson surreally talked about the incident but didn’t come close to condemning it.

QUESTION: Are you familiar with the comments – the part of his speech in which he said that there were some rabbis who were wanting to poison Palestinian water?
MR KIRBY: I’ve seen the comments. I can’t confirm the veracity of that.
QUESTION: You can’t – I’m not asking you to confirm it. I’m asking you what you think of it.
MR KIRBY: Well, look, I mean —
QUESTION: I mean, is this the kind of – is this the kind of language that you guys want coming from someone who says that he’s a partner for peace and wants to negotiate, and then he accuses the other side of trying to poison his people?
MR KIRBY: We’ve been – without speaking to specific comments, as you know I’m not wont to do, we have been very clear – the Secretary’s been clear about our concerns about inflammatory rhetoric and incitement and —
QUESTION: Well, this is before the EU parliament. What —
MR KIRBY: Again, we want – here’s how I’d put it, Matt: We —
QUESTION: You don’t think it’s —
MR KIRBY: As we’ve said before, we —
QUESTION: You don’t think it might be true, do you?
MR KIRBY: I – again, I’ve seen nothing to indicate the truth of that. But we have long said what we want is for both sides to ratchet down not just the violence but the rhetoric, which can inflame some of the violence. And we just don’t find that sort of rhetoric helpful.

Oh, accusing Jews of poisoning the wells is not “helpful” and is an opportunity for both sides to ratchet down the rhetoric. Thanks for those strong words from Israel’s best friend.

The fact is that while diplomats routinely and forcefully condemn Israel for actions that their own states are far more guilty of, there is nothing but praise for Mahmoud Abbas as he spouts his lies and incitement (Unbelievably, Abbas even began the speech saying that he is against incitement.)

The double standards cannot be clearer. And while they would deny this up and down, it is hard to construe the lack of reaction to this as anything other than an attempt to paper it over because the lie of Abbas as a peacemaker is too strong to be overcome by pesky facts.

Elder of Ziyon

‘Bye Bye Brussels!’ – Britain Votes to Leave the EU

Friday, June 24th, 2016

British citizens are done with being one of many — 28, to be precise — and they made their views clear in a referendum Thursday with a vote to leave the European Union.

They wanted their borders back, their own British Pound Sterling, thank you, and the safety of being able to make their own security decisions.

The vote was called late Thursday night at 52 percent in favor of ‘Brexit’ as the leaving was called, and 48 percent against, according to ITV and the BBC.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who said his position would be ‘untenable’ if the country chose not to remain within the EU, now finds himself having to decide his next move. Cameron had warned there would be “no turning back” if the UK were to separate itself from the European body, looking at the impact on banks and other financial institutions as well as other issues.

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage described a poster showing a line of asylum seekers as “a statement about the whole of the European Union,” according to CNN. Farage delivered a victory speech to supporters upon hearing the news of the final results at a polling station in Birmingham.

The ‘victory’ may be a bit premature, however: Scotland warned from the outset that should England decide to leave the EU, the decision would launch a discussion about whether or not to hold another referendum on whether or not to secede from the United Kingdom.

Should Scotland vote for independence, the UK decision to leave the European Union — which may ultimately lead to the disintegration of the EU — will have led to its own dissolution as well.

Analysts around the world are now weighing the effect of the British decision on the world economy and it impacts individual nations along with their currencies, pension funds and banking systems. It is also not clear what effect this will have on the British Jewish community both in the United Kingdom and abroad.

In trading Thursday night, the British pound Sterling fell against the U.S. dollar and against the euro; however, the euro fell against the Japanese yen as well. All three stock markets dropped, and were set to open lower on Friday.

Political leaders in Europe are now deeply concerned that the split that exists in England may continue to divide other member states in the EU, prompting them to leave as well and perhaps lead to the dissolution of the entire European body.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli President to EU Parliament: No More ‘Negotiations for Negotiations’ Sake’

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin addressed the European Parliament on Wednesday, including foreign ministers of the EU member states, and issued a sharp rebuke of the international community’s approach toward Israeli-“Palestinian” peacemaking, arguing that the recent French initiative “suffers from fundamental flaws” and that efforts should be focused on building trust among the parties rather than striving for a permanent peace deal, which he described as a “chronicle of a predictable failure.”

Rivlin, a former right-wing parliamentarian who has refashioned himself in the presidency as a strong voice for unity and tolerance, pointedly dismissed recent European peacemaking endeavors, including the French initiative conference adopted by the European Union Council last week.

“The attempt to return to negotiations for negotiations’ sake, not only does not bring us near the long-awaited solution, but rather drags us further away from it,” Rivlin said. “The French initiative suffers from fundamental flaws.”

“If the international community really wishes and truly aspires to be a constructive player, it must divert its efforts away from the renewal of negotiations for negotiations’ sake, and toward building trust between the parties, and to creating the necessary terms for the success of negotiations in the future,” Rivlin added. “In the current circumstances, we must all ask ourselves ‘what can be done today’, rather than, ‘what cannot be done.’”

Rivlin argued that a true peace deal is not practical today and its pursuit is a doomed enterprise.

“Currently the practical conditions, the political and regional circumstances, which would enable us to reach a permanent agreement between us – the Israelis and the Palestinians – are failing to materialize,” Rivlin claimed, citing the split between the Palestinian Fatah party and the Hamas terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip, as well as the “total lack of trust between the parties, at all levels, between the leaders and the nations.”

“One cannot hope to achieve better results while resorting to the same outlooks and tools which have failed time after time previously,” Rivlin said.

Rivlin also addressed European criticism of Israel, which he described as misguided and at times unfair.

“I feel that the massive criticism aimed at Israel in Europe stems from, inter alia, a misunderstanding and an impatience toward this existential need of the Jewish Nation and the State of Israel,” he said. “There are those who feel anger and frustration toward certain European actions, vis-à-vis what they perceive as sometimes unfair criticism, sometimes even contaminated by elements of condescension, and some would even say double standard.”

“If Europe is interested in serving as a constructive factor in striving for a future agreement, it will be incumbent upon you its leaders, to focus efforts at this time in a patient and methodic building of trust. Not through divestments, but through investment; not by boycotts, but by cooperation,” Rivlin added.

Despite his blistering critique of Europe’s attitude toward Israel and his stark assessment of the possibility of a long-term peace deal in the near future, Rivlin stressed that Israel seeks peace.

“I speak to you today in the name of a nation which abhors war and desires life and peace,” he said. “Being well versed in the Israeli Parliament, I do know that any political agreement brought before the Israeli Knesset by an elected government will be approved.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

‘Support Israel — Leave Europe’ Campaign Encourages Brits to Drop EU Ties [video]

Monday, May 9th, 2016

A group of concerned British ex-pats and Israelis has launched a public campaign to encourage pro-Israel Britons to “vote leave” in the upcoming EU Referendum.

The “Support-Israel — Leave Europe” website focuses on four major reasons why Zionists should oppose the EU and seek to weaken it by encouraging Britain to leave. The first reason is the fact that the EU has spent millions on aid money to the Arabs, much of which has ended-up in the hands of convicted terrorist murderers, including those who brutally killed five members of the Fogel family. Second, the illegal EU funded building of more than 1,000 structures for Arabs across Area C in an attempt to establish a de-facto Palestinian State. Third, the recent EU directive encouraging the labeling of Israeli goods made in Judea and Samaria, which amounts to state-sponsored anti-Semitism. Fourth, the hundreds of anti-Israel NGOs that receive hundreds of millions of pounds directly and indirectly from the European Union in an effort to de-legitimize the Jewish State.

Ari Briggs, international director of land monitoring and legal advocacy NGO Regavim, explained the rationale behind the campaign: “For decades the European Union has meddled in Israeli affairs to the detriment of the Jewish State. For thousands of Israel supporters in the United Kingdom and ex-pats around the globe, it’s pay back time. We call on everyone that supports Israel to “vote leave’ and deal a major blow to this mammoth bureaucracy that has an unhealthy obsession with Israel.”

“We encourage all eligible ex-pats in Israel and elsewhere to make sure they are on the electoral registry before the June 7 deadline to ensure they can vote,” Briggs added, saying “all the information needed is provided on our website: supportisraelleaveeurope.com

Regavim is dedicated to ensuring responsible, legal and accountable use of Israel’s national land. By investigating claims on the ground level, Regavim protects national land interests, presenting its findings in the form of white papers and legal action, in addition to briefing the press and diplomatic corps.

JNi.Media

Anti-Semitism in Austria ‘Highest in Years’

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

A Jewish organization in Vienna says anti-Semitism in Austria is at its highest level in years.

The group representing the Jewish community is an NGO (non-governmental organization) called the Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde, or IKG.

Data presented to the IKG by a second group, the Forum Against Anti-Semitism (Forum gegen Antisemitismus) indicates last year there were 465 incidents involving anti-Semitism, as compared to 255 such incidents in 2014 – an 82 percent rise.

In 2015, nearly half of the incidents involved Islamic anti-Semitism online (205 cases), according to IKG President Oskar Deutsch. There were 85 anti-Semitic incidents online in 2014.

Around 15,000 Jews live in Austria.

“There is an increasing concern in our community that – if the proportion of Muslims in Austria continues to rise due to immigration, due to the refugees – this could become problematic for us,” IKG secretary-general Raimund Fastenbauer told the European Jewish Press.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has urged the European Union and its member states to increase efforts to combat widespread anti-Semitic cyber hate.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz reacted to the report by affirming, “Jewish life must be protected in Austria. It is the duty of the state to make Jewish people in Austria feel secure; that is for us as Austria a great responsibility.”

However, Sebastian did not outline any concrete plan to address the issue, nor did he offer any suggestion to the Jewish community on how to mitigate the threat.

Hana Levi Julian

Hezbollah More Isolated Among Arab Nations With Closer Ties to Iran

Friday, April 8th, 2016

While the Lebanon-based Iranian proxy Hezbollah terror organization is growing in its worldwide influence, it is slowly being squeezed into isolation in the Arab world.

Both the Beirut Arab satellite operator “Nilesat” and “Arabsat” have cut their transmissions of the Al-Manar television channel.

Al Manar is the official media outlet of Hezbollah.

For the time being, Hezbollah is carrying on its media activities via the Russian satellite, broadcasting on RT Arabic (Russia Today), according to telecommuncations expert Tony Hayek, who was quoted by A-Sharq Al-Awsat, owned by Saudi Arabia.

The group itself has also been squeezed out of Arab brotherhood organizations, largely through the efforts of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which withdrew a significant sum for military aid from Lebanon this year.

The Gulf Cooperation Council and then the Arab League as well both officially declared Hezbollah to be a terrorist entity. The declaration carries severe implications financially as well as socially for members of the group when they travel abroad and in terms of their banking affairs.

Hezbollah is listed as a terrorist organization in the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Israel. However, the EU and UK make a distinction between the group’s military and “political” wings.

The terror group’s Lebanese parliamentarian, Nawwaf Moussawi accused Lebanese authorities of not taking effective measures against the A-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

The Saudi-owned newspaper, which is based in London, carried a satiric cartoon about the Iranian proxy group earlier in the month. According to a report by the newspaper its Beirut offices were targeted by a gang of unnamed attackers.

The vandals broke into the offices of the newspaper in Lebanon, and wrecked the premises. Seven of the attackers are currently being held by authorities; an eighth is still at large. Trial of the detainees set to begin Monday, A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported.

Even as its star may be fading in the Middle East, however, Hezbollah is growing new tentacles elsewhere in the world.

A Hezbollah terrorist cell in Europe was recently arrested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The terrorist organization has established business relationships with a number of drug cartels in South America, according to DEA acting deputy administrator Jack Riley.

Hezbollah has been known for years to be running operations through Mexico as well.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/hezbollah-more-isolated-among-arab-nations-with-closer-ties-to-iran/2016/04/08/

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